Buyers guide to glazing
Open up your home with contemporary window options
One of the biggest areas to consider when planning a renovation or self-build is the glazing. If it’s not done well it can have a negative impact on your project, but with careful thought you can completely transform your home.
Whether you’re undertaking a contemporary build or renovating a period house, there are plenty of glazing ideas to help improve your property, from modern roof lights and light-introducing fixed glazing, to energy-efficient windows that complement traditional facades.
Houses have come a long way from the days of timber-framed single glazing, with its draughts and lack of heat retention. The development of double-glazing in the 1950s and subsequent evolution of modern techniques have transformed how we’ve come to use glazing products in our homes.
‘There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing new windows,’ says Jill McLintock, product manager at Everest Home Improvements. ‘This includes energy efficiency, understandably one of the top priorities for homeowners today.’
Timber, PVCu and aluminium are currently the most popular options for windows. New techniques have helped make timber-framed windows a more energy-efficient choice, with contemporary frames engineered to strengthen them, to prevent rotting or warping.
But timber can be expensive, one reason many self-builders opt for PVCu, which can be designed to look like timber without the cost. You can even install traditional sash-style windows that incorporate the benefits of PVCu while retaining a classic look for a period property.
For a modern build, aluminium framed windows are an excellent addition. Renowned for its strength and durability, the material allows for slim frames, making it an ideal choice for structural glazing if your build requires a large expanse of glass.
Light from above
Another way to use glazing in your home is through a roof light, which lets the sun flood into a space. It’s a great option for flat-roof extensions or to brighten up a loft conversion, while a retractable version allows you to take advantage of summer weather and can open up a roof to create an indoor-outdoor room.
Similarly, walk-on roof lights form a terrace and still permit light to filter through to your home, while pyramid roof lights act as a striking architectural feature.
For rooms without windows, why not consider installing a sun tunnel – they cost around one-third the price of a roof light and are an efficient and easy way to brighten up a corridor or box room. These work by reflecting light down into a space and are great for adding light to areas where fitting a traditional window isn’t possible.
When it comes to installing your chosen glazing product, be aware that it isn’t a DIY job. ‘Always employ an experienced specialist glazing company,’ says Brad Lester, director at Maxlight. ‘Not only will they have a wealth of knowledge and experience, they’ll also ensure that the correct thickness and type of glass is used.’
If you’re using large expanses of glass, you may worry about the impact on your home’s energy efficiency, but it’s possible to ensure this isn’t affected.
‘Pick the most energy-efficient windows you can as these let out the least heat,’ says Aled Stephens, expert at the Energy Saving Trust. ‘Look for the Window Energy Rating; the banding has been widened to increase accuracy, with the scale ranging from A++ for the most efficient, to E.’
Solar-control glass allows light to pass through a window but radiates away a large amount of heat. This is key if you’re covering a large area with glass, to keep the property’s temperature at a manageable level.
Keep it clean
Whatever you opt for, it’s vital to maintain glazing products, especially retractable designs.
‘All glazing should be kept clean, with any moving parts (hinges, handles and rollers) kept lubricated and free from obstruction,’ says Matt Higgs, sales director at Klöeber. ‘There are various products to treat paint finishes and metal to increase their life.’
It’s also advised that timber-framed designs are repainted and stained every three to five years, to keep them in peak condition. For a low-maintenance option, Pilkington’s Activ range of self-cleaning glass uses a coating that reacts with daylight to break down dirt. The coating causes water to form sheets rather than droplets, removing grime as it hits.
Once you’ve decided on the glazing options for your build, it makes sense to run them by any other construction teams working on your project.
‘Get your appointed professionals to talk to each other,’ says Higgs. ‘It will pay dividends in the end if your glazing company, project manager, architect and builder are all on the same page to ensure the finished design is right.’